The initial time we went on a BBC’s Question Time, in Feb 2012, we wanted to make a decent impression. The fact that we looked like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone wouldn’t play in my foster – on my Twitter feed, people frequently queried possibly we was holding time off from my paper turn when we seemed on TV. But my afterwards flatmate Liam took pity, and betrothed to leave out a special, smart-looking shirt.
I found it laid out for me in a flat, and felt many some-more assured when we put it on. Fashion was not my forte, yet during least, we thought, we had done a genuine effort. There we was in Nottingham, with large domestic beasts including John Prescott and Ken Clarke on a panel with me and, for a change, we had done a benefaction to expectations. It went well. Afterwards we called Liam to appreciate him. “But Owen,” he protested, “you didn’t take a shirt, we took my girlfriend’s blouse.”
It’s satisfactory to contend that garments are not my thing. If we need evidence, here it is: in 2016, GQ repository named me the ninth-worst-dressed male in Britain – worse than Chris Evans. Growing adult closeted nearby a centre of Stockport, we did all we could to mix in – a large dollop of gel, hair combed forward, Kappa tracksuits before graduating to Ben Sherman shirts – then, with a spirit of teenage rebellion, we frosty my hair and pierced my eyebrow. we looked like a boyband reject, basically. Unfortunately, when we came out during a age of 20 (originally as bisexual, ruining it for genuine bis by fuelling a whole “bi now happy later” shtick), we was not magically included with a set of happy skills such as “being casually sassy” or “having a good wardrobe”. A womanlike crony pronounced to me: “Oh great, now we can go selling together!” But we hatred shopping. we have nightmares about shopping.
Thirteen years later, examination a Netflix uncover Queer Eye is a joy: here’s a uncover in that 5 odd group come to a rescue of mostly true men, who are mostly detained by their unreconstructed masculinity and struggling to find genuine complacency as a consequence. They learn them how to cook, groom, do adult their homes, speak about their feelings and, yes, dress. Before we watched a uncover – a reboot of a early-00s strike Queer Eye for a Straight Guy – we disturbed that it would revoke happy group to this season’s comical must-have accessories. It always struck me when we was flourishing adult that a description of happy group on radio was possibly as one-dimensional, desexualised stay clowns; as a boundary of jokes; or as would-be passionate predators. But Queer Eye upends all this. we fell in adore with a show, and each one of a fab five, instantly. One of my favourites is Jonathan Van Ness, a beautician who unashamedly embraces camp: an critical purpose indication for happy group who all too mostly fetishise being “straight acting” (as we once did) and can be horribly biased to those deemed camp. we wish my younger self could have watched a uncover featuring happy group as superheroes, entrance to assistance straight group struggling with their possess heterosexuality.
Frankly, though, I’m a unapproachable odd male who needs as many assistance as any of a true group in a show. we might no longer caring about how “gay” I’m judged to be, yet we have grown no seductiveness in garments whatsoever. That’s not uncommon, by a way, among people captivated to members of a same gender who skip from heterosexual norms. Gay, I’m afraid, is not a synonym for pointy dresser.
So it was suggested to me by my colleagues that maybe we could use some styling; that there could be an afternoon during Guardian HQ that would volume to true eye for a odd guy. we was a small apprehensive. Spending an afternoon perplexing on garments routinely strikes me as about as beguiling as a night out with Ukip’s girl wing. Fortunately, conform black Jess Cartner-Morley and stylist Helen Seamons could see we was nervous, and put me during ease.
I incited adult wearing a grey hoodie and jeans – customary – and disturbed they would have got in gold-lined Prada shirts. It wasn’t only a unavoidable Twitter charge – CLOTHES LOVING SOCIALIST HYPOCRITE!!! – that we was disturbed about; we also have an hatred to striking out some-more than, say, £50 on a shirt. Anything some-more only seems like a obey to prevalent commercialism. Thankfully, they had suspicion about all that, and as we eyed adult a clothes, we was reassured that zero were some-more than a nick adult from high-street prices. we was relieved that we could suppose myself wearing any of them – other than a splendid pinkish Hawaiian shirt that was a bit midlife crisis.
Wow, we suspicion after putting on a initial set, I’m wearing garments that indeed fit, rather than throwing on some pointless crumpled shirt dim underneath a general grey jumper before debating a rightwing thinktanker on Sky News. Some of them we utterly liked: a swanky immature coupler and a navy blue fit that done me demeanour roughly respectable. The splendid red T-shirt needs a contrariety button, and one of a coupler and trouser combos done me demeanour like a not-very-hench bouncer. Throughout, Helen kept easily adjusting a clothes, and jokey chit-chat with her and Jess done an differently somewhat absurd unfolding tolerable. I’m not going to lie, though: it was not me.
I theory my viewpoint on garments has always been: this is unequivocally superficial; since should anyone care; when we go on TV I’m only perplexing to get my opinion across, how we demeanour is irrelevant. But this is a bit naive. Perhaps it shouldn’t matter, yet it does. Leftwingers are during an involuntary waste since they are arguing for a radical depart from a stream order; therefore, how they benefaction themselves matters. Demanding a crackdown on taxation deterrence while wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt will substantially attract lifted eyebrows some-more than anything else. It’s OK to demeanour intelligent and rail opposite injustice. I’m told some insubordinate sects – such as Militant, of that my late father was a member – speedy their members to equivocate sauce like a radical. John Prescott, meanwhile, has talked of attending Oxford’s Ruskin College as a working-class trade unionist: “I remember a initial lecture, all a middle-class guys incited adult in their insubordinate gear, we incited adult in a suits.”
Last year, we did a photoshoot for GQ to accompany an interview: they didn’t tell me a fit they had asked me to wear was value £1,000, yet several rightwing blogs positively found out. “Owen Jones discusses a ‘crisis of capitalism’ in a £1,000 jacket,” crowed a Spectator. But indeed – even yet we didn’t possess a coupler – this patronises so many immature working-class people who (unlike me) honour themselves on what they wear, and mostly save adult for months to dash out on engineer items.
When my Guardian colleagues asked me to do a photoshoot as a happy male who doesn’t secrete style, we was a bit bemused. But, weirdly, we utterly enjoyed wearing garments that looked good and fit me. we doubt we will be crowned Britain’s many stylish male any time soon. But there’s zero wrong with priding yourself on how we look; it turns out it doesn’t make we some extraneous bourgeois traitor. Don’t design me to start embracing Gucci socialism, yet maybe I’ll stop treating selling as a somewhat reduction beguiling practice than dental surgery. You can wish to change a universe though looking like a disassembled paper boy.
Dressing Owen: ‘Clothes are judged, possibly we like it or not’
by Jess Cartner-Morley
GQ were approach harsh. Helen and we determine on that, looking by photos of pre-makeover Owen. He’s a attractive man, he only needs heightening adult a bit. The proof behind his heading shirt-and-jumper demeanour is that instead of ironing a shirt he puts a jumper over a tip to censor a creases. Often, partial of a shirt collar is adhering up, or has got tucked inside a jumper, so we can tell he didn’t demeanour in a counterpart before going on camera. That tells we all about what Owen thinks about garments – he doesn’t.
Owen looks relieved that a garments Helen wants him to wear aren’t flamboyant. “A character renovate isn’t about wearing lots of colour,” she explains. “In fact, gripping to a minimal palette will assistance we demeanour sharp.” The thought is veteran and presentable, rather than matched and booted. Black jeans that have faded to grey are substituted for dim Japanese-look denim. A smarter shoe takes a jeans-based outfit out of Student Union territory; a intelligent bomber coupler pulls a demeanour together in a approach that Owen’s grey hoodie doesn’t. Detail is key: Helen turns adult jeans, rolls adult T-shirt sleeves, sensitively yet resolutely warns him off lumpily stuffing pockets with phones and keys.
I consider conform might never be a passion of Owen’s, yet a existence of life in a open eye is that garments are noticed, and judged, possibly we like it or not. So it creates clarity to try to control, or during slightest be wakeful of, a messages we are giving out. Our fire is firmly sandwiched between vocalization engagements – one about Erdoğan, one about Gaza – yet when Helen tells Owen a stores these garments came from (Arket, Cos, new online code FoR) he writes a names down on his phone for destiny reference, and we don’t think he’s only doing it to be polite. we don’t consider we converted Owen to a conform cause. But we wish we done him realize we’re not a enemy.